Deep brain stimulation may offer new fatigue treatment

February 13, 2018
Up to 90 percent of people living with MS report experiencing severe fatigue. Treatment options are scarce, and no licensed pharmaceutical treatments are available. In contrast, deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dtMS) has been used in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Researchers at NeuroCure Clinical Research Center, Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, found that dTMS can produce significant improvements in fatigue symptoms. 

The severity of MS-associated symptoms was assessed using a standardized questionnaire and the Fatigue Severity Scale. A total of 33 study participants with fatigue received sessions of dTMS three times per week for a duration of six weeks. A control group received a sham treatment.

The treatments involved a stimulation H-coil being placed above the patient's head, which generates a magnetic field that influences nerve activity and neural circuits in the brain. Further, the treatment was delivered using a new type of H-coil that was developed specifically for use in the study. The coil permits targeted stimulation of areas of the brain that play a major role in MS-associated fatigue. A follow-up study involving a larger number of participants is being planned. This is intended to verify the efficacy of this treatment method, and to help ensure the implementation of dTMS for MS-associated fatigue into routine clinical practice. 

The findings were published in the journal Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm.

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